Thursday, April 8, 2021

Sumpter adopts new Community Risk Reduction Program

A Community Risk Reduction Program was unanimously approved by members of the Sumpter Township Board of Trustees during their meeting March 23.

In addition to offering free smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, along with assistance in installing the devices for all residents, the program is designed to prepare and educate both public safety first responders and families with special needs members in advance of an emergency situation. 

The program, a product of research Fire Department Lt. Jaime Goode completed during his classes at Fire Staff and Command School, has received widespread attention and acclaim for being pro-active with special needs families in the community. It is being adopted in multiple communities throughout the state and at the federal level.

The program takes pre-emptive action to ensure that emergency personnel have the information necessary to locate and communicate with special needs children, concentrating primarily on those on the autism spectrum, Goode explained. In Sumpter, he will make a personal visit to the homes of families with autistic children to determine through a questionnaire the specific medical needs of the occupants, favorite toys or music of children, favorite TV shows and the triggers that could result in a mental health episode. That information will be available to first responders using the address of the home so that should there be a call for service, police or fire, the information about the special needs of any occupant would be available on the police and fire vehicle computers.

The program will also include a reflective sticker for the window of the home which should be placed in the room where the special needs individual is most likely to be during an emergency situation, Goode explained.

The program has seen wide success and police in another state were able to locate a missing autistic child recently by playing his favorite song through the patrol cars, attracting him from his hiding spot, Goode told the board members.

The plan includes sensory kits for all the township police patrol cars and the three fire engines. The kits include ear muffs to help control sound which can frighten special needs individuals, dark glasses to prevent the bright lights from triggering a sensory overload along with fidget toys, which can occupy a special needs person who may be involved in an incident by providing something to distract them, he explained.

The cost for the fidget toys was reduced by a $350 donation from Harbor Freight, Goode told the board members.

The fire and carbon monoxide detectors can be obtained by the township at no cost from the Michigan Bureau of Fire Services, he said and the local firefighters can help install them for residents.

“We have to let them know we offer the service,” he said. “We also can help with devising escape plans and a quick inspection,” he said. Goode was quick to explain that the inspections would not include any citations or fines, simply help residents devise safety plans in case of an emergency.

Goode said he will also prepare special identification cards badges for those with special needs which will detail the condition and the correct contact information.

The initial cost for the program was estimated at about $1,200, not including Goode's time, estimated at about 16 to 20 hours weekly.  

Goode told the board members that he has already spoken to officials at the Van Buren school district and the Van Buren fire chief and expected to speak to the Belleville fire chief soon about the program. 

Public Safety Director/Police Chief Eric Luke was enthusiastic about the program as were members of the board who unanimously approved the program. 

Goode said he would report back to the board on a regular basis regarding participation and progress of the plan.